January 8 2014

Gilded Lives: Is the First Family Out of Touch?

Patrice J. Lee

Back to business this week as POTUS and Congress return to a full slate of issues. You don’t have to be reminded that millions of Americans remain unemployed, our economy continues to hobble along with mediocre growth and now we are all feeling the effects of ObamaCare.

But there’s a more pressing issue at hand that POTUS and congressional Democrats are committed to: income inequality. They see it as a winning mantra for the 2014 midterms,  and they’ll spend this year spotlighting the divide between the rich and poor and pushing for policies that supposedly reduce the gap.

If Members of Congress are serious about setting up a Grapes of Wrath versus Great Gatsby dichotomy, they may want to get the POTUS on board with the agenda. His fundraising events, celebrity hobnobbing, and vacations, don’t demonstrate sensitivity to the hardships that millions of Americans face. In fact, it’s hypocritical to bash the wealthy and those on Wall Street while living like the richest among them, partying with them and, while rubbing elbows, asking for campaign  donations.

Americans paid the $4-million bill for the First Family’s annual Christmas getaway to Hawaii:

The vacation will cost taxpayers an estimated $4 million and fill the sleepy town of Kailua and its miles of beautiful beaches with street barricades and security personnel protecting the Obamas’ rented vacation home.

The vacation’s cost has been controversial from the start. The president and his friends pay for their own rental homes—about $25,000 a week in total, but the taxpayers pick up the $4 million bill for everything else – the cost of travel on Air Force One, security, waterfront housing for the Secret Service, Navy SEALs and Coast Guard, as well as accommodations for White House staff who are scheduled to stay at the luxurious Westin Moana Surfrider Hotel on Waikiki Beach.

The biggest expense is Obama’s roundtrip flight to Hawaii on Air Force One, which costs taxpayers $3,271,622, according to Michael Tasselmyer of the National Taxpayers Union Foundation and a Congressional Research Service report released in May 2012.

And remember how last week news networks news gushed over the birthday gift of extra me-time that POTUS gave to FLOTUS by allowing her to extend her stay in Hawaii? We’re learning that she should have been hugging us taxpayers because we are footing the bill:

The White House conceded on Monday that the federal treasury will foot the bill to fly First Lady Michelle Obama back to Washington, D.C. on a separate government aircraft after she finishes her extended vacation at the palatial 12-bedroom Hawaii home of talk show legend Oprah Winfrey.

Dedicated vehicles, Secret Service costs, and security sweeps of the Winfrey estate on Maui will add considerably to the total tab.

In addition to the cost of flying a government aircraft from Andrews Air Force Base to Hawaii and back, U.S. taxpayers are on the hook for the cost of Mrs. Obama's Secret Service protection detail – and for any additional security that Winfrey's home and neighborhood might require.

Michelle, you’re welcome. Happy birthday!

To be fair, security and Air Force One expenses are required for any trip the First Family takes. However, for those standing in unemployment lines it cannot be easy to watch the President puttering around on golf courses and his wife dining with wealthy people and celebrities on a meal that costs more than their mortgage or rent.

And later this month the First Lady will host a DNC fundraiser at the home of “Everybody Loves Raymond” creator Phil Rosenthal and his wife. We can expect donors to fork over anywhere between $1,250 to $32,000 for the privilege of dining with the First Lady. Apparently, this event was rescheduled from last fall because of the government shutdown. It was too icky to take four- and five-digit checks while government workers were at home, but aren’t Americans still hurting today? I guess it’s only icky when government workers are hurting.

Liberals are convinced that by exploiting the plight of the poor and pushing for more redistributionist policies, they can seal the deal on midterm elections. (ObamaCare fell through so they need to change the narrative).

However, liberals don’t give Americans enough credit. Most Americans don’t want a handout from government and understand –some for the first time as they experience the damaging effects of ObamaCare – that government cannot solve national economic problems. What Americans want is work – fulfilling, stable employment- that they can then raise their families on without government largesse.   Policies that keep workers reliant on government or cause employers to lay them off, not hire, or move operations out of state and country, harm working Americans especially the middle class.

So before liberals hit the airwaves with their rich versus poor rhetoric, they would do well to make sure that the face of their movement is working from the same playbook.

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